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Here is a question from one of my readers, followed by a response from a Christian brother who has been down this road and who has decided to entrust Himself and his children to Christ. I appreciate his willingness to share:
My problem is an unrequited divorce. I know how God feels about divorce and I want to fight for my marriage. We have two young children. If there is any ounce of Christianity left in my husband, then he doesn’t seem to care that God hates divorce.
He has moved on and is dating a non-Christian woman whom he allows to be with our children. We aren’t even divorced yet! I am afraid every time they go with them.
I pray. I go to church. I pray. I talk to the members of my church. We pray. What else can I do? My children are court-ordered to see him and be exposed to their sinful, adulterous relationship.
He and I have a terrible relationship and I don’t know how to get it back. We don’t communicate well, so we’ve stopped talking unless it has to do with the kids. Even talking then is strenuous.
Should I be trying to tell both him and his girlfriend about divorce and its consequences? I’m trying my best law-wise to keep the case going so we don’t divorce, giving God a chance to reach him before that. And of course, I pray.
Dear reader of April’s blog,
April has asked me if I was willing to share some of my experiences with unrequited divorce, and how God has led me to particular conclusions related to your questions. It is something that I have had to work out through my own unrequited divorce.
I am writing this three years after my own divorce. My divorce was unwanted by me, but my spouse was determined to leave. Communication before she left was awful, with threats about affairs being made and carried out multiple times. Before and after our separation, she entered a path of multiple one-night-stands and had a quick succession of short-term, live in boyfriends. Our children have seen and heard things that no child should ever have to see. Many men have come and gone from their lives in the three years since our separation. Currently she lives with a man who is not a believer and this appears to be a more long-term relationship heading towards a marriage. We have legally divorced, sold our family home, moved to different towns and have shared care of our children.
What I write comes from a place of deep hurt and personal experience with the situation that you are in. I have spent many, many hours in tearful, prayerful consideration as to how to deal with these situations as they arose for me. I have prayerfully considered all that I have written here, and I believe that the advice I am going to share is biblical advice.
(From Peaceful Wife – I encourage every wife in a situation like this to search scripture and to pray for God’s leading and wisdom for her. Ultimately, what you choose to do is between the Lord, your husband, and yourself. Reach out to trusted, mature believers/counselors for prayer and godly wisdom. And, of course, if your or your children are truly in danger, please contact the proper authorities.)
Fighting a divorce when a spouse is determined to leave
One of the things we may be most tempted to do when our spouse tells us they want a divorce, is to fight against it. This is a natural inclination! We don’t want a divorce, we don’t want our world shattered and we know that God hates divorce. Malachi 2:16 tells us this.
“For the Lord God of Israel says
That He hates divorce,
For it covers one’s garment with violence,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Therefore take heed to your spirit,
That you do not deal treacherously.”
It is right and good to hate divorce, it is the sundering of a covenant that is supposed to be lifelong and holy, and all parties involved in a divorce suffer because of it.
When my ex-wife told me she wanted a divorce, I felt total, debilitating fear. Everything that I believed to be true was a lie. All my security was taken away. So initially I fought for the marriage tooth and nail, with fear as my primary motive.
But, in fact, me fighting it just strengthened her resolve to go through with it.
The biblical principle that became clear to me through these situations was this. We do not have the ability to control our spouse’s decisions, and we should not try. Trying to fight a divorce when your spouse is adamant that they want to divorce is a form of control, and if they are not wanting God’s design for lifelong marriage in their life, then they will only fight that control even more. They are already rebelling against His will in their life, why would increasing the ‘height’ of what they perceive as walls to limit their freedom do any good? It won’t!
I believe this is the principle that is laid out for us in 1st Corinthians 7:12-16
“To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?”
An Example from My Own Life
This experience is burned in my mind, it is one of the times that I knew God’s presence so, so strongly. I was working alone and all of a sudden the scripture, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” came into my heart. I felt strongly that God was reassuring me of His presence and lifelong care, warning me of something to come and to let it happen and trust Him.
Minutes later my ex-wife rang me. She threatened to have another affair and told me she was going to force me out of our home. I responded with these words, “I am not leaving you or the children, I love you and I am committed to you and our marriage. But you are free to leave if you want to, you have the freedom to choose.”
Even though my response was clearly giving her the freedom to leave and was not a response of control in any way, she still responded by telling me that I was being horrible, and she stepped up her efforts to force me to leave, including trying to manipulate me into an affair. Many years later, she told me that she did not want to be seen as the “bad one,” so she was trying to get me to cheat and leave, but in her heart she knew she was leaving no matter what. When a person is committed to the path that they are on, they are not willing to listen to advice contrary to it. If I had of said that I would try to stop her leaving, it would have escalated the issues even more.
Dear reader, I am not suggesting that this is easy to do! Every fibre in your body is (rightly) hurting and hating what you are going through. Your natural inclination is to fight, fight, fight to save the marriage you dreamed of having. I hurt with you and for you, but I am certain that the biblical principle is to let your husband make his own choices. What does this mean practically, when it comes to the legal side of the divorce?
I am not sure what the laws are in your country, but in my country a couple can apply for a ‘no fault divorce’. This can be applied for by the couple together, or by one member of the marriage. If it is applied for by one spouse only, the other spouse has the option to contest the application or accept it.
My ex-wife asked if we could apply for a joint divorce, and after much consideration and discussion with my counsellor, church leaders, and much prayer, I decided on the following approach. I told her that I would not apply for a joint divorce with her, because I had made my marriage vows and I intended to stand by them. I told her that if she chose to apply for a single applicant divorce that I would not fight her application for a divorce because she had the right of free choice, but nor would I support it. I believe this to be consistent with the biblical principles of honouring my marriage vows, of showing Christian love and giving freedom of choice. (Incidentally, the outcome was that she did apply for a single applicant divorce, I did not fight it and she was granted it). I do not believe that God would have you fight to avoid a divorce. I believe that God would have you graciously allow your husband the freedom of his choice, and leave the outcome in God’s hands.
Trying to tell the wayward spouse what to do and/or preach at or lecture him/her
One of the things that it is tempting to do, is to lecture our spouse as to why they are making the wrong decisions. Even if we have decided that we need to give them the freedom of choice, we are still naturally inclined to point out to them why their choices are wrong. I did this:
I pointed out to her that she had made wedding vows of fidelity for life.
- Her response was “I didn’t mean them, I just decided that I was hot and you were hot and we had to be married to have sex”.
I pointed out to her that the Bible taught that God hated divorce.
- Her response was “So what, I don’t think I believe in God anyway”.
I pointed out to her that the divorce would hurt our children so much.
- Her response was “It’s too late for me to reconsider anything”.
I booked a counsellor to talk things through.
- After a couple of sessions her response was “He’s an old man who doesn’t know anything”.
I told her that I was willing to forgive her affairs, sell our family home, move interstate so she did not have to deal with the shame of some of her more public actions, and start afresh.
- Her response was “No, I just don’t want you. I want to hurt you”.
See the pattern here?
I don’t know your spouse, and I don’t know the dynamics of your relationship and communication. But what I do know is that if he is willing to leave the marriage and live with his girlfriend, then no amount of lecturing from you will change anything. You can tell him and his girlfriend that the divorce is wrong and the consequences of it until you are blue in the face, but it won’t change anything.
Only the Wise Listen to a Godly Rebuke
A warning is only of any value to someone who is on the same team and is listening out for it, willing to hear the voice of reason. Proverbs 9:7-8 says
“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
rebuke the wise and they will love you.”
Trying to tell a wayward spouse what to do is about as useful as cooling down a hot meal with a blowtorch. In the same way that a spouse who does not believe in the sanctity of marriage will only rebel against fights to save it, a spouse who is not willing to listen to reason will not listen to you lecturing them or telling them that any of their decisions are wrong.
Consider King David for a moment. He was fixated on Bathsheba, he lusted after her and was willing to kill to have her as his wife. If the prophet Nathaniel had lectured him about what he was doing, what do you think his response would have been? I suggest that if he was willing to commit murder and adultery to have Bathsheba, which he already knew was wrong, then someone telling him that he was doing the wrong thing whilst he wanted to do it would have had zero effect.
And yet, at the right time and with the right word from God he was convicted of his sin, and broke down in repentance.
It is not love to ignore the sin of our spouse, but our relationship with our spouse is different to our relationship with our children. With our children, we have a responsibility and a right to instruct them, to teach them, and to correct them. If this is done with love as the motivation it is a good and right thing. However, we do not have the same sort of parental authoritative relationship with a spouse, and certainly not with an ex-spouse. I think we need great discernment to know when and how it is a loving time and place to share with an ex-spouse what impacts their decisions have made. I believe, and have experienced, that God can and does open doors at the right time to share these things.
Dealing with your children being with the ex-spouse’s current boyfriend/girlfriend
This is one of the hardest things to deal with. Not only are you dealing with the betrayal of one who promised to love you for life leaving, not only are you dealing with the hurt of another partner (or partners), you are also dealing with the confusion and hurt of your children. The innocents.
The truth is, divorce hurts children very, very deeply.
Even though it has been three years since my divorce, my kids still hurt from it. I believe they always will. The tears they have shed, the questions they have asked, the memories of their little bodies clinging to mine as they tried to work out why mummy left, still hurt me too. I am a father who wishes to protect his children from hurt, and yet, here I am having to protect them in some ways from the one who is supposed to nurture and love them?! How do I do that? I too have been afraid for my children, (particularly for my daughter), who are growing up living with men who are not their father or brothers. How do I teach my children good values, when they are growing up surrounded by bad values? How do I set appropriate boundaries with them, when they have different or no boundaries with their mother?
These are Very. Hard. Questions.
I found inspiration in Mother Teresa. Someone shared with me an experience she wrote of, where someone asked her how she coped with all of the suffering of the children in India. They asked her “Don’t you wish you could save all of the children of India?” Her response was “Of course I do”. They then asked her “How do you keep going when you know you can’t save them all?” Her response was “I can save this one.”
What this experience showed me, is that I can only do what I have the actual capacity to do. I cannot make a difference with what goes on with my children’s mother. I cannot change the fact that she is likely to have many boyfriends, and the children will see this. I cannot change the fact that she smokes around them, swears around them, is happy to live in an unbiblical sexual relationship around them – because none of these things are considered by the laws of our country to be reason to remove a child from their mother (unless there is actual abuse going on, in which case I have every legal right to intervene). But what I CAN do, is provide an environment and sanctuary where they can experience and see a difference.
I can make a difference to them when they are with me.
I can live a life that is pleasing to God, with appropriate boundaries on my own relationships (incidentally I have not had any relationships since our separation). I can eat good food, teach responsible alcohol consumption, provide a smoke free environment. I can make a difference to them, with me.
I also believe it is absolutely appropriate and right to continue to teach your children about right or wrong values, even if their other parent is not living those values. It is not love to allow someone you have a responsibility to teach to believe that something bad is good. The primary consideration once your spouse has divorced you, in my view, is what is your responsibility towards your children.
Creating productive communication with the ex-spouse
As I was writing this for April, I had a conversation with my ex-spouse. It began with her letting me know that she had booked my son in for some dental work this week. It continued into a brief discussion where she said she had been proud of him for the way he played with a disabled child last week, and she said he had a kind heart. I responded by saying that he does have a kind heart, and I think he got it from her (because underneath all of the horrible things that have been done, she does have a kind heart). She melted, and apologised again and again for all the things she has done that has hurt me.
We talked some more about the kids, their future, and our future. We talked about ways that we try to build up each other in our children’s minds. I pointed out in the conversation that I could not support some of the things she is doing, such as her smoking, but that I have shared these things with the kids in a way that shows them that we all love her. She acknowledged again that she takes responsibility for all of the wrongs she did to me. This is not the first time she has apologised for what she has done. I have had many opportunities to talk about things that have hurt me, and she accepts hearing it now. She reiterates again and again her desire for me to have a happy life. She is changing.
What has brought about this change? How can we communicate about the children like that now, when we weren’t able to 3 years ago?
One of the fundamental principles that I believe should guide our responses in all communication with all people, is love. Whilst it is true that love speaks the truth, when we speak with love we also have discernment as to when we speak, who we speak to, and how we say it.
If the motivation for us saying something to our ex-spouse is fear, then that is a good sign that we are probably not speaking in love.
We will likely say something that is truth (such as the divorce is hurting the children), but it will likely be said in a way that achieves nothing. If we want to say something and it is marked with peace, love and joy, this is likely a fruit of the Holy Spirit in your heart. And it will bear fruit, which will be seen in your ex-spouse’s response. As I have slowly learned this principle, and have practised thanking her for the things that she DOES do for the children, things have slowly changed.
Reader, I am not going to pretend for a second that this was easy to begin with. When your spouse/ex-spouse is doing things that rip your heart to pieces, it feels almost impossible to see anything positive in them at all. But what I found, was that as I spent time in prayer and worship of the Lord, he enabled me to see her as a lost soul, and I began to hurt for her and for the decisions she was making. I began to see that we were both the same, both people who desperately needed God’s forgiveness and grace for our lives. I began to love her with a love that I hadn’t ever felt before. I understood how Christ could be on the cross hurting for the people who were killing Him.
And that is the key. Knowing Christ. The more I have surrendered my situation to the Lord and allowed Him to work, the more fruit I have seen in my life and hers. He has directly shared to my heart times when I just KNEW it was the right time to say something, and the responses to these conversations have been fantastic.
I ask you this, what can you actually do of your own strength that will change the mind of your spouse? The answer is nothing.
Any change that comes will come as a work of God in their heart, as they, themselves, are willing to listen to Him. Creating productive communication with your spouse is a matter of experiencing Christ yourself, practicing His principles of love and respect, and trusting Him with the outcome, even if you don’t see any changes for a long, long time.
I received a letter from my daughter two weeks ago. She is 6. It had her beautiful handwriting on the front of the envelope, where she had carefully written out my home address. It was a handmade card, with a picture on the front that she had drawn. Inside it had these four words “I love you Dad.” Do you know why I got that letter? Because it was the weekend that I did not have custody of my children, and their mother had organised this letter to be posted to me. She has photographs of me with each of the children next to their beds, so they can see me before they go to sleep at night. She will randomly text me, thanking me for things like teaching her how to drive a car. Things have changed. There won’t be a reconciliation of our marriage, but there has been such a softening of her heart over time, a reconciliation of friendship of sorts. We work together for the children now.
There is a scripture in 1stCorinthians 13 that says this, “Love never fails.“ Love may not restore your marriage, there are some things that have lifelong consequences and divorce is something that sometimes can’t be avoided. But I can promise you that love will produce fruit over time. It will first produce fruit in you, as you begin to understand the depth of the love of God in you. And it may well begin to soften the way for better communication with your husband also.
I am praying for you.
NOTE FROM PEACEFUL WIFE
Ultimately, each spouse in a situation like this will need to seek God wholeheartedly and seek to follow the Word of God and the Spirit’s leading. There aren’t super easy formulas and pat answers. This husband truly has sought the Lord with all of his heart, mind, soul, and strength. As he was willing to lay down his will and his life in absolute surrender to the Lord, God has given him wisdom each step of the way. He trusted God to work in his wife’s heart. Because it is only God who can open people’s blinded eyes and raise them to new life.
I believe that as we learn to depend on Christ and we determine to seek to follow and honor Him above all else, He can show us His path for each of us.
The greatest goals are eternal goals. Things like – our spouse’s and children’s salvation. We can continue to pray for these things and allow God to use us however He sees fit to pray and to set beautiful, Christlike examples for everyone around us to see.
If you are facing severe issues in your marriage, please reach out for godly, experienced, wise one-on-one counsel if you need to – with a counselor you trust. And please seek to be as close to the Lord yourself as possible.
- Focus on the Family has a free one time counseling service and counseling referral service.
- www.biblicalcounseling.com may be a blessing.
If you have been in a situation similar to this and you believe that God has given you wisdom you would like to share (that aligns with scripture), you are welcome to share some general insights and spiritual treasures you have received.
If you would like prayer for your situation, you are welcome to ask for prayer.
However, I’d like to stipulate that we (the author of this guest post, readers, and myself) not attempt to give specific advice to people in the comments about their particular situations. A public forum like this is not a great place to share all of the details of a spouse’s sin. That is better done in private with a trusted, experienced counselor who can get to know your specific situation in person. And sometimes, if a person gets a lot of conflicting advice, it can be more confusing than helpful.
How to Have a Saving Relationship with Christ
When Your Husband Says, “I’m Done!”
Should You Try to Please or Keep Your Husband at Any Cost?
Influencing an Unbelieving Husband for Christ
Should a Christian Wife Consider Separation?
FreeinChrist Fights Divorce with Heavenly Weapons
FreeinChrist Stands for Something Way Bigger Than Her Marriage
A Peaceful Divorced Wife – Kristen’s Story
A Divorce and Reconciliation Story – by The Restored Wife
Finding Contentment in Christ Alone in Painful Trials
How Can I Seriously Count Painful Times As Joy?
When Would I Not Submit to My Husband?
A Prayer to Change the Spiritual Atmosphere in the Home – by Radiant
Praying for Your Husband and Children
I was in this same situation 15 years ago before the wonderful April and the Peaceful Wife could help me. I found the teachings of Michele Wiener Davis and her 180 refreshing in an industry supporting easy divorce. Letting the person who wants out go rather than trying to stuff them back into the cage they felt they were in is the first step in healing. The next is working on finding happiness in your own life. This man is an incredible example of that truth! Whether the divorce happens or not – you become the best person you can be when it’s all said and done. It’s impossible to go through ‘the valley of the shadow of death” and not come out the other side a stronger person.
Thank you for sharing a bit of your story and some things that have helped you. May we each pursue the Lord with all our hearts. When we yield to His Lordship, He is able to bring beauty from ashes, joy from mourning, and He is able to give us a hope and a future as we trust in Him.
I agree, if we are willing to seek God and are open to the treasures He has for us in the valley, He can use even the most awful trials to help strengthen us – and then He can use our stories for His glory.
I am amazed by this man.
He is demonstrating Christ-like love to someone who hurt him and his kids deeply.
He is a truly being conformed into the image of Christ. He is a GREAT father and role model for how to deal with painful situations.
I agree with him about not trying to control others. When my father started an affair years ago, I was extremely cruel to him to punish him and to force him to change. It just made him more cruel to my mother and me and more defiant and rebellious than ever.
When I worked on forgiving him and treating him with grace, after some time, he came to Christ on his own and repented before God.
Trying to control others doesn’t work at all. It’s best to just treat others with love and pray that God will open their eyes to their sin in His own time.
What God is doing in his heart is so beautiful and powerful. I’m thankful for the opportunity to get to share this brother’s story.
Thank you for sharing a bit of your story, too. How interesting about the response your dad had when you tried to punish him and make him change vs. when you began to treat him with forgiveness and grace. Praise God that he came to Jesus!
Much love, precious sister!
This was wonderful! I am in the throes of an unrequited divorce myself now and so many of my questions were answered with a Biblical foundation. My husband has asked me to file an uncontested divorce with him to save money.
We have been married over 35 years and I don’t want a divorce. I know that won’t prevent it from happening, and i can accept that, but I don’t have to allow him and his attorney to make all the decisions either. Thank you so much. Your guest is a very wise man. I know he said his marriage would not be reconciled, but it sounds like it could be as they each grow closer to Jesus. My children are all adults now, but divorce still hurts them. I pray for my husband’s salvation every day and pray that one day God will restore my marriage. Until that time, I will follow this sage advice.
Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s plans for divorce – and after 35 years! Wow.
I pray with you for God to reach your husband in His way and His power – that your husband might yield to the salvation and Lordship and healing of Christ. And I pray for God to empower you to be the woman He calls you to be, that you might be a shining example of Christ to your husband and children, even in this great time of trial and heartache. I also pray for God’s healing for your own spirit and heart, dear sister.
This story has me in tears it is so touching. I do believe there is hope for reconciliation for this man and his ex-wife although I know that is not his goal, he is seeking to honour God and be a living sacrifice. The message of letting go of the control and trusting God is beautiful. May the Lord continue to bless this family.
A reader had asked me to write on these subjects, but I felt that this Christian brother’s testimony was so much more impactful than anything I could possibly share. He has lived it and walked it in his own life. Thank you for your encouragement to him and your prayers for him and his family.
Yes April, I think I have heard parts of his journey over the years on your blog if it is the same man and his journey is an incredible story of what it looks like to truly surrender to the Lord despite such painful circumstances. It reminds me of the scripture Romans 8:28, ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose’. He has been sanctified through the trials. His children are also blessed to have a Godly Father who hasn’t abandoned them in this situation. His former wife is also being transformed. So many wonderful things to take from this!
Yes, he has shared parts of his story here in the past.
It’s very inspiring to see a believer in Christ completely yield to Him and trust Him in the midst of a great trial. And to see how God will then use it all for His glory. What an incredible promise we have in Romans 8:28-29! That is how we can choose to count trials as joy as James 1:2-4 instructs us to.
May God richly bless your faith and walk with the Lord!
I too am sure I know who this is. This is so amazing. He was always so inspiring to me and I just loved reading every word. His children are so blessed to have him for their dad and his ex spouse is so blessed to have him as her ex. Thank you for sharing.
Yes, you do know! Isn’t it wonderful to hear an update and to see all that the Lord is doing?
How have you been, my sweet sister? <3 It's great to hear from you!
Yes it is so wonderful and I hope he’s able to share more in the future. Pretty sure Gods not finished with this story yet.
I’m ok. Thank you for asking. Much of the same unfortunately. 4 yrs and counting…. There is the slightest feeling of some baby steps being made but I’m wary to think it let alone say it.
I have my moments but overall am feeling stronger and have let go of a lot of my fear. (Most of the time) 🙂
I agree, He’s not done with his story. And He’s not done with yours either. Is there anything I can do to bless you? I’m glad to hear you are feeling stronger and are letting go of fear. That is awesome!
Much love to you!
Thanks April. I guess just a prayer for us would be appreciated.
Of course! I will pray right now.
I too know who this is and I’m very thankful to hear an update about how his life is going. It fills my heart to hear of his amazing, life changing journey. Such a powerful testimony of God’s love. He and many others here have stayed on my heart these last four years. I have kept you all in prayer and hoped to hear updates. This update though surpassed anything I could have hoped or prayed for him, his children and his ex. But isn’t that just how awesome our God is?! He is being glorified in ways unimaginable to anyone who walked through this with him. The ripples going out for God’s glory and kingdom are endless. God be praised!
To the woman who asked the original question…you are in my prayers too. I know the road you are facing is not one you want to walk down. I didn’t either. Know you are not alone. It sounds so cliche but so many complete strangers online (on my social media) said those words to me and truly they helped. It felt good to know someone would reach out and say you are loved. So my sweet sister, and all brothers and sisters on the same dark road, you are loved. You are not forgotten nor are you worthless. God is with you and He WILL show His power in ways you can’t befin to explain if you will but trust Him. Listen to His still small voice amid the noise. It is hard. I know all too well. He is quiet and still though so that you will slow down and stop to hear him. To truly seek Him out and rely on Him alone. He needs you calm so you can make good decisions and follow His will for your future. It may not be the future you envisioned but God’s plans are never our own. They are so. much. better.
I know. I am living it out now.
My life radically changed last June when my 27 year relationship ended in divorce nine days after our 25th wedding anniversary. I definitely didn’t want it. I stood by my husband and fought for our marriage for four long years, after I found out he cheated, with everything I had in me. I felt God kept wanting me to stay so I did. Until one day when I heard God say, “check the phone bill”. In a very odd way it proved he was still cheating and it was irrefutable. Now I had forgiven him and thought this affair was over for 15 months. I was blindsided that it was going on again. Or he never stopped, of that I will never know, but it is my guess. I confronted him and he denied it until I showed him the proof. Here I was sitting in front of him and he could have come clean but he chose to lie. Again. His level of deceit was unfathomable. The things he did still boggle my mind. The ways he deceived me to my face still hit me hard. I couldn’t walk thru that anymore. It was too painful and there was no trust left. I firmly felt God released me from the marriage in that moment. As I felt the release I looked at this man I had loved since I was 17, still loved in that gut wrenching moment, and said I have to let you go. I will continue to pray for you because I really feel God was trying to heal our marriage but you didn’t do your part. And I firmly believe that God was working in it. There were many signs. Many reasons to hope. I think it is why God didn’t give me a release to leave until that moment when he chose to lie and deny again. Even then God was hoping my husband would confess and repent. But he didn’t. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t give up the other woman. He was so content to keep having his fantasyland of two women that I have no idea how long he would have continued but I knew I was putting an end to his use of one of those women. Me.
It has been the most painful time of my life.
It is a death.
A death of hopes, dreams and your entire existence. Nothing is left untouched.
God has been nothing but faithful to me through all of it though. In the first two weeks as I sobbed pretty much 24/7 He sent round the clock people to watch over me. Even in the middle of the night. It was as if they all had a schedule that left not one single minute unassigned but it was anything but that because many of them didn’t even know each other. It was simply God’s love for me. He didn’t want this divorce either. He didn’t want his son lost to the enemy either. So we grieved together, God and I. Many tears. Many groanings. Many prayers.
I walked thru the divorce with my integrity intact. I chose to walk with grace. Sin is sin. I used to be a contentious wife. It is how I found April. No, nothing gave him license to cheat. Just to be clear…again I say…nothing. My point in saying that is I errored too. And no one can judge whose sin was greater except God. Maybe God would judge me with more fault. I simply don’t know. So I gave my husband the same compassion I felt God had for him. I refused to slander him. I simply spoke the truth. He cheated. I refused to engage in further conversation about it. I would say there’s really nothing to talk about and I meant it. Still do. I have some stories that would have curled toes and made him this small town’s kicking post. I could have been the hit of the gossip circuit but that isn’t God’s way. Instead I shut down the gossip circuit. I shut down the pity parties, awkward stares and weird conversations. And I did it by simply saying this…
“I will always love him but he is wayward and very broken. Only God can fix that pain in him. Please pray for him so that God may be glorified thru these ashes with a renewal of the good man I have always known he is. I am thriving now but I appreciate your prayers as well.”
Then I really shock them and ask them to join me in praying for the other woman. Sorry, but the looks I get make me laugh. No one can believe I would pray for her. SHE couldn’t believe I pray for her. But that’s what God has taught me thru this His ways are not ours. And they certainly are not the world’s ways. When God asked me to pray for her the first time I recoiled. What?! Surely you jest Lord! I have learned to listen very closely to that still small voice though. April could tell you she has counseled me thru a lot of my lack of trust in the Lord. I learned fast though just how much I had to trust Him thru the worst of this painful betrayal.
I would not have survived without trusting God.
I had to make decisions that were so painful but had to be done NOW. I had to be put into situations and circumstances I never had before. Everything, and I do mean everything, changed in my life. I felt uncomfortable 24/7. It was beyond anything I ever thought I could endure. But with God I have endured and He is now my complete comfort.
On that day God asked me to pray for the other woman as I said I recoiled at first. But only for a moment. Then I bowed my head and truly prayed. I said her name for the first time out loud and asked God to be in her needs. As I prayed I sobbed out all the pain I felt this woman had inflicted on me. She knew I existed and still pursued my husband. She also cheated on her own husband. The level of pain their affair caused is widespread. There were four children involved that are forever scarred. I held such bitterness and anger toward her. As I prayed though God healed all that in me. Yes, I won’t forget but I have no bitterness I hold toward her anymore. That was just six weeks ago but it really is completely gone. My now ex-husband told me a few days after that prayer that she asked him to ask me if I would one day allow her a chance to speak to me. That she suddenly felt she needed to make amends to me in person.
THAT IS THE POWER OF GOD.
If I had not prayed for her I would not have been set free and I do not know what God is doing in her (I have never met her) but maybe it wouldn’t have begun either. That is the power of answering the still small voice and trusting His requests of you.
I truly pray they both get right with God. They both profess to be Christians. Obviously wayward and broken Christians but aren’t we all? Who am I to judge them? That is all on God. I know He has plans for them just as He does for me. Maybe those plans will impact the world. I can’t stand in the way of that. It is about God’s Kingdom not me.
All I know is that God says there will be beauty from the ashes. I want to be a part of spreading beauty in this world every chance I can get. If my divorce and new life can be a part of His masterpiece then I say use me Lord! I know that is hard when you’re standing in the midst of the loss. The unimaginable grief. Please hear me when I say it WILL be used for His good. God IS standing right next to you and He will grieve with you. He will NOT leave you for a single second. Not one. He has plans to prosper you and give you back what the locusts have stolen. It may be through a restoration of your marriage and it may be through divorce. He doesn’t choose divorce but He will work through it. God is always many steps ahead of the enemy’s schemes so know if you keep standing with God you’re on the way to good things. Yes, maybe new things you don’t think you want right now but trust me when I say…some of them are REALLY GOOD new things. Things you will be so thankful for that you wouldn’t want to live without them by going back to the pit.
You may have to walk through the fire of divorce as I did. I am only nine months out from the day I discovered the affair again and my world collapsed shattering my heart into a billion pieces. I am doing well though. I have occasional tough days but mostly life is so much better. I walked thru the fire and won because God was with me. Not once have I been singed or smelled of smoke. He has refined me and now I am the fire. On fire for Him! God got me back thru this. I didn’t trust Him before. Now I do completely and I tell everyone that. And I pray and believe He will get back my ex and many others thru it as well. It will not be in vain. He WILL be glorified because He already is being. Seriously, ask someone to pray with you for the other woman and stand back because the flickering fires of curiosity start right up! They see Jesus in you and they are intrigued how you can walk with such grace and light.
Only thru Him I say. Only through Him.
Let God work in your situation and TRUST that no matter what happens it WILL be perfect for you and all those who you will impact as you walk thru it. It WILL be good. For God is good all the time.
I pray for each and everyone of you that God will fill your hearts to overflowing. That you will seek His face and feel His mighty arms around you. Fall into them and sob your fears and pains to the only One who can truly heal them. That you will see all the other people who love you and will support you. That you will see life is not over just changing for the better. That you will trust Him to make beauty from your ashes as well.
Much love to you all!
My sweet sister! It is wonderful to hear from you. Thank you for the update – although, I sure wish your husband had made a choice that honored the Lord and your marriage covenant. But I LOVE what God is doing in your heart and in your faith and life. I can’t wait to see all that He has in store. I appreciate your willingness to share so much.
Sending you the biggest hug!
I was saddened to read your update and hear of the difficult parts of your journey, but also glad to see that the Lord has been with you through it all. It is so good that He has sent you people to be there for you, and to support you in your need!
It was also good to read of your prayer for the other woman. I am so glad that you have experienced the healing from that. I understand you recoiling from the thought of praying for her, but isn’t God good through it all! He had a reason for asking you to pray for her, didn’t He.
It reminded me of the first apology I received, which was when I was strongly convicted to see how my ex-wife was doing, a few years after our separation. I said to the Lord “No, I don’t want to”. But He impressed on my heart that He wanted me to ask, and on that specific day. So, I did. I simply asked how she was going. Her response was an immediate pouring out of an apology to me! It was so healing to have my pain validated and to hear that apology. I would have missed out on all of that healing if I had refused to listen to God’s request!
I have also felt at times that God was going to bring about a reconciliation of re-marriage with her. Specific prayers and specific times I have thought this. This thought stopped me from entering another relationship, as I sought His mind and will. I reached a point where I became very reluctant for a marriage reconciliation, but I listened to these promptings and reached out to her again, offering forgiveness and a reconciliation. She refused, but it led to a discussion on why our marriage failed, and further healing for me. By reaching out in obedience and saying that I would reconcile, I was instead given clarity by God that it is not what He requires of me. Like Abraham, He just wanted my heart. And to be honest, I am relieved that God does not want a marriage reconciliation with her (there were many other things that happened that I have not and will not share here).
I can now clearly see that God gives all of us a choice, and that all of our choices have consequences. We (rightly) talk a lot about God’s grace, but we can (wrongly) see that as requiring us to never implement consequences to people for their actions. But in fact, consequences are a PART of God’s grace, they are one of His gifts to us. And sometimes these are lifelong consequences, her choices have led to the lifelong sundering of our marriage.
As I wrote above, she now lives with someone, and I can say honestly that even though he is not a believer in Jesus, I believe that God has brought him into her life for a purpose. I have comfortable communication with him, and I pray for his salvation and for his children. At our mealtimes together, we pray for “mummy and (their names)”. I want my children to see that whilst there are consequences for our decisions, we still show love to those who have hurt us. Life is short, and a person’s eternal state is of far more importance than a marriage lasting for life. If the outcome of this horrific journey is her salvation, his salvation and perhaps even his children, what a blessing!!
I do not know what my future holds, but I do not need to. Sometimes I want to know, but God has led me so far and will continue to lead me. He has given me a home, a church family, a new job and peace.
In Christ, HH
I am praying for you too Bel.
Boy did this story hit home and hearing the stories, April’s steady and sure encouragement is sweet to my soul. I’ve been away for sometime…rebuilding. After thanking the children’s father for all the good he brought to my life, I let him leave about 3 and a half years ago. I just lost my grandmother, grandfather and father within the year and a half prior…I remember having no feeling but needing to function. Fear was not an option. I was left with the house but with great debt, a property near foreclosure to manage and of course, the children 5 hours away from blood family. I decided to take on all the debt along with the house just to be done with the divorce I didn’t want in the first place. My ex was soon layed off, he had a fire in his apartment that took everything he had, car trouble, an ER visit and his pursuits in the arts barely pay his bills. There was and still is near no child support.
I fell into the arms of my Savior because I had no where to go and did not know what to do.
In weeks I got a random call from prior employers for a job close to my home that allowed me to put the kids on the bus in the morning, be home when they got off and even have an off day – AND it totally supports us. I then got another call from an elder family member that said I had an estate gift not in any will so it couldn’t be traced. Our house ended up selling for so much more and so we moved closer to the schools so I could manage juggling the kids schedules. I got that other property sold too.
My ex sometimes still startles me when I see him because he is thin, angry, broke, lost. I had a dream about him about a month ago and in that dream he had full cheeks, was well groomed and happy again. He gave me the biggest hug and said he worked hard on himself to be a better man and so we could be a family again. I embraced him, told him I was so happy he was healthy again but said that while we could not reconcile, we could be the friends we should have been at the beginning. I pulled away, wished him well and left. I firmly believe he needed an advocate, or at least a friend all those years ago, not a wife. When I awoke I felt so happy that my heart was finally in a place of peace and that I desired his good.
Sometimes, this is still a struggle for me. I wish for my dream to be a reality but this man persists in sickness so distance is still the safest choice for me. I have to coach my children through weekends with him because sometimes they are fun, sometimes not so much. After all has settled, we are a broken bunch but we survived.
I am awaiting results of the annulment process via the Catholic Church for I did not want the option of remarriage even if I had the choice. It is the process by which a marriage made in good faith is reviewed to see what aspects were missing in the beginning that made it impossible to fulfill life long, covenant vows. It is a long, arduous, healing…freeing process. I asked a dear friend of mine if a prude like me could be a nun after marriage with children. She laughed and said probably not but that she was hoping to introduce me to her brother. And this fine gentleman, also a fellow Catholic, chaste and desirous of a family, should our friendship continue, is waiting in the wings.
Thank you April and peaceful wife followers for fighting the good fight and wrestling with all the matters of the heart. Thank you for holding onto holiness and our Lord’s love with all you’ve got. As my mom would say, “Through it all God has allowed me to keep my smile.” So this girl keeps smiling because God is good and beauty from ashes is real; I was not disappointed with putting all my trust in Him.
Always in Christ,
It is so wonderful to hear from you! I am sad to hear about your husband – and so many deaths in your family. Whew! It sounds like your ex-husband is in a very miserable place spiritually. But how beautiful your heart is and how I praise God for all He has done and is doing in your life.
I join you in praying for your ex-husband’s salvation and healing from the Lord.
May the Lord continue to draw you closer and closer to Himself and may He use your life for His greatest glory, my precious sister! I pray for His continued healing for you all.
I am in the middle of a divorce to a non believer, and have been praying for the restoration of my marriage, I have also been praying for his salvation.
Recently my 12 yr old son accepted the Lord! ???? That being said I could use prayers for my husbands salvation. My son has asked my husband to participate with him at church and he plain out refuses.
Any prayers that God would soften his heart and put obstacles in his path so that my husband would seek him out would be greatly appreciated. TIA
Praise God that your son has received the Lord! That is AWESOME news!
We lift up Devon’s husband and invite Your Spirit to work in mighty ways in his heart. Only You can open people’s eyes and raise them to new life. Empower Devon and her son to shine for Christ and to set a godly, respectful example. Help them walk in the power of the Spirit and use them and others to draw this man to Jesus who dearly loves him and who died to provide for his salvation. Be greatly glorified in this family and we ask for the victory of Jesus Christ to reign in their lives.
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